Co-inventor of ARP 2600, Voice of R2-D2, Dennis Colin: 1942-2015

A memorial service was held Friday, December 18 at MIT.

The music world lost a giant. Dennis Colin, inventor of the ARP 2600 synthesizer, passed away on November 21, 2015. (The ARP2600 was used in the Star Wars movies as the voice of R2-D2, and has featured many famous recordings, such as the "Frakenstein" instrumental by The Edgar Winter Group.) A public memorial service was held today at the MIT Chapel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Here is an excerpt from his memorial program:

Dennis received the B.S.E.E. degree from Lowell Technological Institute, Lowell, Mass., in 1967, ranking fourth in a class of 305. After graduation he joined the Raytheon's Missile Systems Division, Bedford, Mass., where he designed circuits for radar systems.

In 1969, Dennis joined Tonus, Inc., Newton Highlands, Mass., later to become ARP Instruments, as Director of Advanced Research and Development Engineering, where he held patents for a Full wave, self-detecting differential logarithmic rf amplifier (pat.4716316), and for a Touch sensitive polyphonic musical instrument (pat.4044642). He is responsible for most of the circuit design of the ARP synthesizers. Other inventions include voltage controlled filters, oscillators, amplifiers, phase delay converters, frequency shifters, low-cost spectrum analysis systems, and other electronic music functions.

In 1975, Dennis would design the Aries 300 Synthesizer for the Aries Music Company, in Salem, Mass. A pair of ARP2600 synthesizers is available to students and faculty in the Sound Synthesis Lab at the Berklee College of Music, and his inventions have notably influenced MIT Associate Physics Professor Joseph Paradiso PhD, and many other electronic musicians in the MIT community.

In his spare time, Dennis would write for numerous audio engineering publications, and enjoyed building and flying radio controlled airplanes with Winnipesaukee Radio Controllers in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. He built various home audio equipment, including dodecahedron speakers, fuzz-boxes, tube amplifiers, the Hyperphase guitar pedal, and the Musichrome color wheel, as well as Tesla coils and other electronic equipment. He also enjoyed writing poetry, painting, and drawing.

Little did he realize at the time what a far-reaching impact he would have in the distant future on so many people. He really was an extraordinary man. A loving husband, a dedicated father, and a brilliant engineer, Dennis leaves his legacy through the way he lived every day of his last 72 years; a modest soul, an optimistic outlook, a generous and loving man who will be missed by all who were touched by his life.


Arp 2600 relevant Keyboard links:
Hardware reimagination of ARP 2600 synthesizer

Keyboard Rigs of the Stars, Then and Now

Martin Gore Goes Crazy for Classic and Modular Synths

One of the most impressive vintage synth collections we’ve ever seen

The Flaming Lips on Composing with Synthesizers

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